New AmeriCorps volunteers are sworn in during a ceremony at the White House, Washington D.C, Sept. 12, 2014 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

America’s conflict with violent Islamic extremism is now 15 years old, with no end in sight. While the conflict does not pose an “existential” threat to the United States, both political and military leaders have warned that it will be a multigenerational effort. There is still much killing to come; persistent violence is the new normal. This is not war in the traditional sense where victory means defeating enemy forces on the battlefield. All of the bombing in the world and even the deployment of American ground combat units to Iraq, Syria or Pakistan would only shift the conflict to […]

A protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, Leipzig, Germany, Sept. 17, 2016 (AP photo by Jens Meyer).

When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took the stage on Monday night for their first presidential debate, there was one topic on which their positions were not diametrically opposed: trade. That’s not to say they agreed. But in a debate rife with sharp disagreements on just about every issue, the matter of U.S. trade agreements with other countries was one in which they both argued there is room for change. Skepticism about the benefits of free trade is not unique to the United States. Throughout the developed world, the rise of populist politicians has changed the tone of the discussion […]

Protesters march during a demonstration against international trade agreements, Brussels, Sept. 20, 2016 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

From protectionist rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum to worldwide protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), free trade is in a political rut. Concerns about income inequality, job loss and capital flight have deepened the sentiment that globalized trade benefits elites at the expense of everyday citizens. But that’s not necessarily the case. World Politics Review’s 10-article compilation helps to contextualize the debate. The following articles are free for non-subscribers until Oct. 13. The Case For and Against Free Trade Liberalized Trade Is Under Attack. Can It Be Saved? […]

U.S. National Guard members stand by as demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Jeff Siner).

A routine intervention by security forces turns deadly, causing deeply rooted and widely felt grievances that have lain dormant for years and even decades to erupt into view. Spontaneous protests grow into organized demonstrations, ending in violent confrontations, and at times even riots. By now we’ve become familiar with the sequence of catalyzing events that trigger widespread political instability. It is a pattern that describes Tunisia, Egypt and Syria in 2011, and we are used to thinking of it in terms of fragile states on the periphery. But it also describes the events in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week, following […]

CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2016 (AP photo J. Scott Applewhite).

Last week, the CIA held its third annual conference in conjunction with George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. The agency’s director, John Brennan, who moderated parts of the proceedings, expressed his deep personal commitment to improving the conversation between the intelligence community and the American public. Earning the public’s trust is an obligation in a democracy, and as a practical matter, a lack of openness only leads to very distorted perceptions of the intelligence function. Brennan spoke of the need for secrecy, not for its own sake, but strictly as required for safety and security. The conference, […]

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally, Roanoke, Va., Sept. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

It is time for a serious assessment of what a Donald Trump presidency would mean for the United Nations. For most of this year, this prospect has seemed little more than a topic for passing drollery. In May, for instance, I wrote that “as president, Trump will love the U.N.: He loves bloviating, so he should feel right at home in Turtle Bay.” With the U.S. elections just over 40 days away, this seems less amusing. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is still the frontrunner, but opinion polls suggest her lead is narrow. U.S. officials and diplomats in foreign capitals are […]

President Barack Obama during a meeting with other leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

As a U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama had strong reservations about free trade. Back then, he referred to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, as “unfair” and pledged to renegotiate the deal. But as president, Obama has adopted the traditional bipartisan orthodoxy in Washington on free trade. What’s more, his administration has aggressively pursued two mega-regional trade initiatives: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. As the Obama administration draws to a close, though, free trade has become a poisonous issue in […]

A soldier during exercise Immediate Response 16, Slunj, Croatia, Sept. 12, 2016 (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn).

Technology that will have a profound, potentially revolutionary impact on the U.S. military is on the way. Some innovations—like new materials, new fuels, automation, autonomy, new manufacturing methods, 3-D printing and better energy storage—will simply make military machines faster, lighter, smarter, cheaper and more accurate. But other technologies have the potential to change and enhance humans themselves. “We want our warfighters to be made stronger, more aware, more durable, more maneuverable in different environments,” ethicist Patrick Lin wrote in the Atlantic in 2012. Neuroscience, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence and new drugs may pave the way for dramatic human enhancements, […]

Nigerian special forces run past Chadian troops in a U.S.-led hostage rescue exercise, Mao, Chad, March 7, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In July, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser officially took over command of the United States Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, from retiring Army Gen. David Rodriguez. Waldhauser inherits an organization that has overcome initial growing pains and turned into an integral player in responding to African security challenges. Although the U.S. maintains only one official base on the continent, as many as 60 smaller facilities sprawl across 34 African nations. These facilities serve as staging areas for a steadily growing array of joint special force operations, military exercises and other security cooperation activities. Under Rodriguez’s three-year tenure, AFRICOM took […]

A demonstrator holds up a Panamanian flag during a protest by the "Cumbre de los Pueblos" or "People's Summit," against U.S. policies in Latin America, Panama City, April 9, 2015 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss Central America’s “other” migrant crisis, the United States’ expanding military engagement across Africa, and reforming how the World Health Organization is financed. For the Report, Eric Farnsworth joins us to explore the limits of U.S. President Barack Obama’s pragmatic approach to Latin America. Listen:Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes | RSS Relevant Articles on WPR: As New Migrant Streams Look North, Central America’s Crisis Moves South As U.S. Military Assistance in Africa Grows, How Can It Mitigate the Risks? The Pitfalls of the Pentagon Taking the Lead on […]

A convoy of Islamic State militants, Tel Abyad, Syria, May 4, 2015 (AP photo via militant website).

Confusion, mistakes and misfires on the battlefield are hardly unusual. To the contrary, they are a common occurrence in warfare. But last Saturday, after U.S. warplanes launching airstrikes in Syria against the so-called Islamic State struck instead a group of Syrian army forces, what followed was, if not unusual, informative. The aftermath of the incident highlighted the Middle East’s propensity to find murky motives behind easily explainable events, exacerbated by the widespread confusion about the strategic objectives of the war’s combatants, notably the United States. As soon as news emerged of the U.S. airstrikes in Deir el-Zour, which Russian officials […]

Cuban migrants at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua,, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Amid the wave of migrants fleeing to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—collectively referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle—another migration crisis is unfolding farther south. The Central American isthmus is increasingly becoming a pressure point for migrants from around the world, whether Cubans attempting to reach the U.S.-Mexico border via a circuitous route that begins in Ecuador, or migrants from Africa and South Asia who have been shut out of Europe and look instead to entry points in South America that lead north. The influx is not only straining the resources of countries in southern Central […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony, Beijing, June 25, 2016 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Two themes will figure prominently for the next American president in managing the challenges to global order and U.S. national security: Applying the lessons learned from America’s experience over the past two decades in dealing with fragile states; and relearning the lessons forgotten from the Cold War about great power rivalry. Both will be enduring aspects of the international order, and navigating them will be complicated by a political landscape, in the U.S. and other countries, that puts limits on what governments can achieve beyond their borders. Fragile states and the risks they pose became a central concern to U.S. […]

Lebanese troops stand guard as weapons from the United States are unloaded at Beirut's port, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

Burkina Faso, a small West African country that most Americans have never heard of and that saw a popular uprising in 2014 and attempted coup a year later, has received more than $4 million in the past 10 years to help professionalize its military. However, even with consistent U.S. security assistance, the State Department reports significant human rights concerns in Burkina Faso, including extrajudicial killings by security forces and excessive use of force, such as torture, against civilians. Burkina Faso is not the only country receiving U.S. security assistance despite a questionable human rights record. Every year, the United States […]

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Washington, Nov. 9, 2015 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

In the waning months of the Obama administration, the drama of U.S.-Israeli relations driven by personal and policy frictions between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dimmed. The two leaders’ lack of rapport has become irrelevant, as Obama works to demonstrate an unstinting American commitment to Israel’s security. What remains to be seen is to what extent he will emphasize the unfinished business of Palestinian statehood in his remaining time in office. This month, U.S.-Israeli relations have been back in the news, after being largely absent from the national security preoccupations of the presidential candidates and the […]

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the Summit of the Americas, Panama City, April 11, 2015 (AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

At his first Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, President Barack Obama laid out a vision for U.S. relations in the hemisphere based on partnership and a commitment to pursuing policies that aligned the United States with the needs and interests of the region’s people, particularly those living in its barrios and favelas. Gone would be the days of overt attempts by Washington to influence Latin America’s political direction or to promote a particular economic course. Countries would decide for themselves which path to pursue, and the United States would cooperate where possible based on mutual […]

Protesting congressional inaction to fund a federal response to the Zika virus, Sept. 14, 2016, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. (AP Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. The continued impasse in Congress over appropriating funds to combat the Zika virus in the United States perfectly illustrates the challenges that the next American president will face in addressing global health. There is a generalized sense that something needs to be done, but widespread disagreement over who should do what—and who should pay for it. Global health has received less attention from the media in recent months, […]

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